Sunday, April 14, 2013
Alley Cat (1984) review
ALLEY CAT 1984
Karin Mani (Billie), Robert Torti (Johnny), Michael Wayne (William "Scarface" Krug), Jay Fisher (Charles)
Directed by Edward Victor, Victor Ordonez, Al Valletta
***WARNING! This review contains images of nudity***
The Short Version: This unremarkable, unintentionally hilarious gem is an empty calorie clone of SAVAGE STREETS (1984) with a dash of VIGILANTE (1983) sprinkled over it for good measure. Karin Mani's "take no shit" attitude and willingness to disrobe is the film's major saving grace. As far as revenge movies go, ALLEY CAT is found at the bottom of the garbage can, yet it has some traces of meat on its bones. Exploitation fans and bad movie buffs will have a good time with it.
The beautiful, Karate fighting tough girl Billie Clark attracts the attention of William "Scarface" Krug; the leader of a vicious drug gang, after she beats the hell out of two of his thugs. Desiring revenge, Krug then attacks and kills her grandparents. With the police proving useless in apprehending Krug and his gang, the wild Alley Cat takes the law into her own hands to deliver her brand of vigilante justice.
Executive producer, and controversial figure Edward L. Montoro had a penchant for bandwagon movies -- whether making them, or importing them. From GRIZZLY (1976), to CONVOY BUDDIES (1976) and on to the brief release of Castellari's awful JAWS clone, GREAT WHITE (US release in 1982), Montoro seemed perfectly fine with ripping people off even if it meant getting lawsuits in the process. ALLEY CAT (1984) is among these bandwagon flicks; but while it falls in the category of the many DEATH WISH clones, it often feels like an even lower budgeted, incompetent rival to the same years SAVAGE STREETS (1984).
That's not to say ALLEY CAT doesn't have its moments. Sadly, none of these come from the films shoddy scenes of violence. Fortunately, the bulk of them come from the more than generous nude scenes -- with the stunning frame of Karin Mani being showcased on a few occasions. The gratuitousness of bare flesh extends to a few other actresses seen here, too. You can almost smell a nude scene coming at times. This is just that sort of film.
Mani is easily the best attraction of this poverty row picture. She's a spirited performer who really shines when she's talking and acting tough. There are no pearls of wisdom found within any of the clunky dialog, but Mani's spunk makes up for a lot of this.
For such a wobbly production (the picture seems to have been started and finished later), the movie runs smoothly enough, even if it is uniformly poor from start to finish. The acting is the pits and the fight choreography is mostly laughable; yet the high volume of exploitable elements manages to make it tolerable on a trashy, bad movie level.
The adorable Mani may talk shit beautifully, but she monumentally fails to convince in some of the fight scenes when you can see her in plain view. The filmmakers do an exceptional job doubling her, though. It's worth noting that Mani's character gets as many, if not more fight scenes than your average kung fu movie. Speaking of kung fu movies, fans of that genre will recognize some of the stock library tracks used here.
Robert Torti plays the love interest of the title vixen. He's naive in the role for the most part, but Mani is such a strong presence she carries both of them, and the film honestly works in the romantic arc between them. They do have some good scenes together which keeps Torti from coming off as nothing more than eye candy for whatever ladies may be watching this. The actor has since went on to a stable acting career.
The script by Robert Waters is terribly weak, but rarely ever boring because of its numerous, chuckle-generating handicaps. The film goes for a widened scope (such as sending our heroine to a women's prison twice), but fails to find focus in anything except for random fight scenes and plentiful nudity. The main villain of the piece stays absent for long stretches, and he's never a formidable presence anyways.
Michael Wayne seems to have only done one movie (with this being it), and his stab at a nasty, scarred gang leader (named Krug, of all things) is anything but terrifying. In his favor, he intermittently tries to resonate the same sort of unpredictability that marked Robert Dryer's superb scumbag from SAVAGE STREETS (not sure if it's intentional, but it feels that way), but these moments are undermined by unintentional hilarity (at least it seems to have been unintentional). He does have one great scene where he keeps shouting at one his gang members to "drive, asshole!" His final confrontation with Mani's Alley Cat is hilarious.
There are many other similar movies that tower over ALLEY CAT (1984) in terms of production values and acting; and that are better films as well. But this movie -- which seems to have had a troubled history -- has a lot to recommend it for completists of those movies, and less demanding viewers. The near 30 minute, revealing interview with Igor Kantor on the DVD is better than the movie, so take that for what it's worth. Karin Mani has presence, and she's the sole reason to give this movie a second spin; and not just because she occasionally gets naked, either.
This review is representative of the Scorpion DVD.